Profiles of the last six at the ACOP Main Event.
1: Neel Murphy, 28, San Francisco, CA, United States — 449,000 chips
An entrepreneur from California, Neel Murphy has been in or around the chip lead in this tournament from the very start of Day 3 when he won an enormous pot against Yueyuan Wang. However, it was a massive flip on Day 1 that kick-started his tournament and he has seemed happy to take the rough with the smooth ever since, also losing one of the biggest pots against Stevan Chew. He has been playing poker for 10 years having taken it up in college and cites Antonio Esfandiari, Sam Trickett and Daniel Negreanu as his biggest influences.
2: Shinobu Tanaka, 43, Osaka, Japan. – 1,200,000 chips
Shinobu Tanaka heads into the final day in the middle of the pack. He’s in Macau with his wife who has been his biggest fan all week, supporting him from the rail and taking hundreds of photos of him. He’s been playing poker for six years after being taught by friends. Those friends are still the biggest influence for him in the game. He likes to play many types of games and he cites this deep run as his biggest achievement so far, and the ride is not over yet. Away from poker his main interest is business and he’s president of a company. The defining moment in this tournament was when he won a big pot versus Jimmy Zhou today, his pocket Kings holding against his opponent’s Queen-Jack.
3: Kahle Burns, 27, Geelong, Australia – 2,211,000 chips
Kahle Burns heads into the final day second in chips after a great penultimate day at the table. The academic from Australia has been playing the game for 10 years, having been inspired by the sight of his friends making money from playing online. He migrated from play chips to real money micro stakes and worked his way up from there. Burns is happy playing whatever game is running and the highlight of his poker career was winning his first ever tournament. It wasn’t for that much money but he still remembers what a big deal it was at the time. Outside of poker he likes to practice parkour and has an interest in science. Also, he’s pretty proud that he’s can solve a Rubick’s Cube in 30 seconds–although this skill is yet to be proved here in Macau.
4: Vladimir Geshkenbein, 28, Switzerland – 2,958,000 chips
Best known as a former EPT champion, having won the Snowfest Main Event in Austria in 2011, Vladimir Geshkenbein actually first emerged on the high stakes poker scene here in Macau when he won a High Roller event on the APPT. He has since put together a tournament resume with results across the globe and earnings that now total close to $1.7 million. He is a self-taught poker player and has now returned to university to study in between his high stakes poker excursions.
5: Jimmy Zhou, 29, Las Vegas, USA – 1,642,000 chips
Jimmy Zhou hardly needs any introduction: He in the reigning Asia Championship of Poker Main Event champion. He is only five spots away from doing the unthinkable and retaining his title. Zhou’s achievements, so far, are even more remarkable seeing as he specialises in cash games over tournaments. His last recorded live cash was his win here last year. Zhou, originally from China, got his start in the game eight years ago when he deposited $500 online and never looked back. These days you’ll find him playing heads up cash ($5/10 up to $50/100) and heads up sit-n-goes ranging from $2-5k. He cites Doug “WCHRider” Polk and “WC3” as having the biggest influences on his career. It’s hardly surprising to find out that last year’s victory here was the highlight of his career, and he said that flopping a lot of sets has helped him get back to the final table. Away from the table, Zhou just likes hanging out with his girlfriend.
6: Bryan Huang, 31, Singapore, Team PokerStars Pro — 595,000 chips
Bryan Huang is Singapore’s No 1 ranked poker player and its only member of Team PokerStars Pro, having signed to the team during a career in which he has been named Asia Player of the Year and visited two other final tables on the APPT. He has played poker for 10 years having taken it up at university, and says his friends are still his biggest influence as they help him to stay in touch with developments in the game. He got a huge boost in this event when he called a massive bluff from Albert Paik and won with a pair of kings on Day 3, and also recovered from the overnight short stack of the last 16 to navigate his way to the final.